Recently, I had the opportunity to have breakfast with the music and movie review dream team: Two time pushcart nominee and author of On Sunday A Finch (Nomadic Press, 2015) - Cassandra Dallett / Award winning Performance Poet, Activist, Transformational Leader, and founder of The Body Is Not An Apology - Sonya Renee Taylor / Fine Artist Harriet Poznansky / Musician and producer Logan V Ford. We had crab omelettes and french toast and talked about "Girl's Trip", the new comedy from Director Malcolm Lee (The Best Man), and writer Kenya Barris (Black-ish).
Starring Regina Hall as Ryan, Queen Latifah as Sasha, Jada Pinkett Smith as Lisa, and
Tiffany Haddish as Dina.
Rohan: This is the greatest movie of all time. This is the best movie I have ever seen.
Cassandra: I feel like I haven’t laughed like that in a movie in a long time. I wanted to call up all my girlfriends. That was the feeling I got watching this. I LOVED the fact that they had ALL the black artists, ALL the music. I mean, they showcased EVERYBODY.
Rohan: How many cameos were there? It was like a who’s who of black celebrities from the 90s. You have all these celebrities, who have had their own success in their own right, but are still buried. Like, a lot of people don’t really know how great they were.
Cassandra: As someone who is the same age as Queen Latifah and Jada, all of us who grew up with them, WE KNOW. But we don’t really care if you know. You SHOULD know. And the way it showed their college days, the dancing and the style; I loved all that.
Rohan: All the black cameos made me engage with the movie on an emotional level because of the nostalgia. I’m seeing all these people who have influenced me in different ways and I’m like yo, this is bigger than a movie now. Maxwell, Ne-yo, Larenz Tate. O Dawg.
Cassandra: It was SOOO good to see Larenz Tate. I been saying where’s he at? for years. And he is still lookin' good.
Rohan: He is a good lookin' dude.
Logan: It’s a testament to "black don’t crack". Ain’t nobody look older than they did back when they was hot, other than Morris Chestnut, a little bit. (<-----You petty for that last part : editor's note)
Rohan: Man, Morris Chesnutt was there too!
Everybody: THEY BROUGHT EVERYBODY!
Cassandra: It was such a celebration of black fabulousness . By it being in New Orleans. By it being at the Essence festival.
Rohan: I think one of my favorite scenes is when they’re intoxicated. They do one of the best intoxication scenes I have ever seen.
Logan: I’ve had absinthe before. The immediate is so in your face while everything else is so far in the background. And everything is so real and so not real at the same time.
Rohan: To me the scene rivals the Wolf of Wall Street scene where Leo’s tryna get to the Lambo while on Quaaludes.
Cassandra: It definitely brought back some hilarious memories of my life.
Rohan: The scene where Mike Epps is selling Tiffany Haddish the absinthe, it just left me thinking that these two have a chemistry. They need to be doing more together. Their humor just plays off each other so well.
Cassandra: Just seeing his face on the screen makes me laugh.
Logan: Yup, all you gotta do is see Mikes Epps’s face and you laugh.
Sonya Renee Taylor enters the room “May I have a Mimosa?”
Cassandra: This crab omelette tho.
Sonya: It’s about that life?
Cassandra: YAAAZ. So we were talking about the movie. And we were saying how it’s kinda ridiculous that we’re talking about the movie with no black women here. So we’re SUPER happy that you’re here.
Logan: Yeah this movie wasn’t made for me, so I would rather let the people who it’s made for speak on it.
Sonya: I’m interested in the thoughts of people who it’s not for. Like, can people find themselves in a work that wasn’t necessarily made for them? That’s intriguing to me.
Logan: I found myself wishing that my aunties could have a trip like that. Coming up and seeing some of the stress that they were under, I definitely feel like they needed some of that shit.
Rohan: Sonya, we were just talking about the slapstick humor and how much they committed to it. They doubled down on it. They followed through so strongly.
Logan: Like the zipline scene.
Rohan: When Jada is on the zipline and she starts pissing all kinds up people beneath start fleeing, I got this feeling like oh, here's another moment where people are being told to be repulsed by black women.
Harriet: I think that's why Tiffany was so great in that situation, the way she came in after her and starting peeing too.
Sonya: That was some homie shit! That's some ride or die shit. She was not about to let her friend be up there alone peeing on people. It's actually not about peeing on people. It's saying what am I willing to do to be in solidarity with my friend? THAT is what I'm here for.
Cassandra: And it was so over the top and absurd that it worked.
Sonya: They gave permission for that to be a thing that black women can do. And that was not at all in the landscape.
Logan: Even though in real life we see it.
Sonya: Absolutely. I’ve had the bar fight scene. I’ve had the roll up on a dude whose fucking over your girlfriend scene. I’ve had every single one of those scenes.
Cassandra: ME TOO.
Sonya: These are real life scenes.
Cassandra: It was unapologetic and I LOVE that!
Sonya: And it merged these things they we say don’t go together. Like what is a respectable upper middle-class black experience? And what does that look like without all the rules? There were NO RULES!
Rohan: Like they shoulda got kicked off a wine tour by now. (Wine Tour reference here: reference)
Logan: It’s like a Venn Diagram. The shenanigans me and my homies be getting into and the shenanigans a group of homegirls would be getting into and that little part of the diagram wear they meet. And you see things from the other side. Me and my homies would crash a bachelorette party. Those types of stories are always told from our (men) side. It was cool seeing it from the other side. Like actually, whoever you thought you pulled might’ve pulled you.
Sonya: You THINK you were running this, but actually her and her girls were like bitch you gettin’ laid this week.
Logan: Sometimes I have to speak to my friends when we’re going out like You think you doin’ somethin’ but you really not. All you gotta do is SHOW UP and SHUT THE FUCK UP. Don’t talk yourself out of a good thing bruh.
Cassandra: Tiffany Haddish was definitely my favorite part of the movie. She was freakin’ hilarious.
Rohan: There was a scene toward the end of the movie where Jada Pinkett Smith visits her in a bar, and Jada says to her “We are so lucky to have you (as a friend).” And Tiffany says “You right, yall are SOOO lucky to have me.” And I feel like that was the whole movie right there. They were so lucky to have her in this movie, cuz really, it wouldn’t be shit without her.
Cassandra: It’s true. I mean, I love all those other women, but she really brought it to another level. You need somebody like that in your crew whose gonna break a bottle a beer over someone’s head and do whatever needs to be done.
Sonya: I needed a better arc for Tiffany Haddish’s character. We know she was there for comedy, but she’s also a richer character than that.
Cassandra: I found myself wondering, does she have a job to go back to? Is she going to be okay?
Rohan: I’m glad they had this moment when they were all together praying and Tiffany says –
Sonya: My heart just fills with joy thinking about all the fun we’re going to have together.
Rohan: Yeah that’s it.
Cassandra: To have this sense of sweetness and naivete in the most outlandish character felt really real to me.
Sonya: Tiffany Haddish is a breakout star. She's about to be in ALL the things. I got to know some of her backstory from watching an interview with her. Her mother was involved in a car accident and lived with a traumatic head injury that triggered schizophrenia. She went from being a highly functional single mother entrepreneur to becoming very nonfunctional. Tiffany at 10 years old was the oldest of 4 or 5 kids. She had to take care of the other kids. There is this way in which Tiffany has internalized her "failure" at it. The kids had to be placed in foster care. She felt like she was supposed to be good at taking care of them at 11 years of age. And when someone would say to her "You're crazy", it would be super triggering for her and she'd be like "I'M NOT CRAZY!" All of her wounds are on the surface, so I have this fear for her what with this level of visibility and fame.
Rohan: Hollywood may not be good to her. She may end up working with writers and directors who won't take as much care and consideration for her characters.
Sonya: I really hope she patterns her career after Melissa McCarthy. She's had a great A-list career in Hollywood, and she is known for playing comedic roles like this.
Rohan: I think that because of Hollywood's agenda of putting people in boxes that they always want people to be in, she might end up being used.
Logan: But Hollywood is changing a little bit, because now we have the Jay-Z, Denzel, and Will Smith who can greenlight projects. We have projects coming out that we have never seen before.
Cassandra: It all came out of Hip Hop.
Sonya: That's the interesting angle to the reality of these stories is that the people who were the pioneers of Hip Hop have now become the entertainment moguls who are informing the way the entertainment industry moves. It's an interesting long game. Will Smith wouldn't be who he is now without Hip Hop.
Logan: And it's like for every one that they let through, they tear another three or four down. And it can be any day.
Cassandra: The way that the film was a throwback to the 90s, made me think of how in that era you had black music, movies, and tvs shows dominating the airwaves. Shows like Living Single, movies like Set It Off, and Friday, I remember uproars of laughter in the theater. It's like we're having a Renaissance of that.
Sonya: I'm excited about unapologetic blackness right now. There are all these opportunities to be unapologetically black with little concern for the white gaze. If you are feeling it, then great, but if not, so be it. We didn't make it for you. We made it for us.
Logan: I'm so glad we don't have to hear shit like: You gotta crossover. You're going to alienate your audience. How are people going to identify with you? Shut the fuck up.
Rohan: I got chills when she did the grapefruiting demonstration.
Logan: The first thing I thought about was how it feels to get lemon in your eye. This ain't gonna end well.
Sonya: I think there were two camps. There were the people who were like mmmmm…Imma do that tonight. And then there people who were like NOOO! NO CITRUS! NO CITRUS!
Rohan: It wasn't the grapefruit that intrigued me, it was more how she was getting down ya dig?
Cassandra: It was real.
Logan: I feel like sloppy toppy is coming more into the mainstream. It didn't used to be like that.
Sonya: We have "tidy toppy" and we have "sloppy toppy". Which would you like? (laughing) I hope the lady who made the original grapefruit demonstration video is making money off of this.
Sonya: It was funny because I had a conversation with an older black woman who didn’t like the film. And I was like What? What’s wrong witchu?! So some of it I think is aesthetic. She’s not a slapstick comedy type of person. I also think it is just too far from her experience. I do think that there’s an age for it, otherwise for older folks its unrealistic and really silly.
Cassandra: (Looking at Sonia) I feel like it was made for OUR age, but it was funny enough for younger people.
Rohan: I feel like right now we’re rehashing 90s culture anyway, so for younger people, this isn’t so far-fetched.
Sonya: If you weren’t coming of age now or in the 90s, then you miss some of the references and the nostalgia. It’s not your nostalgia.
Cassandra: Just seeing Queen Latifah looking so great with her big beautiful self.
Sonya: Who got her skin glowing like that?
Logan: She look like she got a chef.
Sonya: In terms of strategic career moves, her unrepentant, unapologetic unwillingness to come out has actually served her well.
Everyone: She never came out. Never.
Sonya: BUT WE ALL KNOW SHE EATS PUSSY! I think she feels like it's her life, and she doesn't need to make an announcement about her personal life.
Cassandra: I feel her, because people are way too fascinated with who you're fucking and how you're fucking them. Queen Latifah was savvy enough to know that people would be so distracted by that, that it would overshadow her professional work.
Sonya: I loved that this movie gave visibility to talented actresses who have had to consider these dilemmas throughout their careers. Regina Hall been in every "black movie" since 1999. You may not know her name, but she been in everything. She put in work.
Logan: Also this movie pointed out the fact that there REAL people who sit behind REAL boardroom tables who have a financial vested interest in selling people a lie that you can have it all and this is what real life should be. And they don't do it from a position of morality, they're doing it from a position that says I'm selling this shit and y'all gon buy it and that's gonna affect your lives in real ways and y'all gon feel inadequate meanwhile I'm making this money.
Rohan: Y'all might be annoyed as hell by this question, but where was the redemption for the black male in this film? There didn't need to be any, but the conclusion I came to was that it didn't all come down to Lorenz Tate's character, but it was really all the black male cameos that we saw, and the feeling that gave us. I think that was enough for me.
Sonya: I think that was the intention. I feel like they had Lorenz Tate there to show that not all niggas is shit. Like here is a good dude who said he's 100% in if the right person comes along and he meets his equal. There's another guy who is about having this shared experience with a woman who does not have to be a hoe, who doesn't have all sorts of projections thrown on her. He's just glad to have the experience. I feel like there were enough of those scenes which are there intentionally because both of the directors are black men. Kudos to them, because I think they did a great job with figuring out what that lens is. It was just really honest.
Cassandra: And Ryan's (Reginal Hall) husband Stewart (Mike Colter), he just fucked up, but he wasn't diabolically evil. And he wasn't weak. I think sometimes these things are so overplayed like you have to hate this person. I didn't hate him, I just thought that she should leave him.
Logan: This movie was outlandish in ways, but also very grounded in other ways.
Sonya: I wanted Regina Hall and Larenz Tate to not be so booed up in the end. I didn't want it to be like that, like she just left her husband and now she's in another man's arms. Like can she just be her?
Cassandra: Hollywood always has to have that.
Rohan: But we never see them kiss.
Cass: I was glad for that.
Logan: They really respected the intelligence of the audience.
Sonya: And I HATE MOVIES! All they do is pick people apart. And I was like wow, there really isn't any of the sort of low blows. The comedy is raunchy, but it isn't putting anyone down.
Sonya: The last scene when Ryan breaks from the speech that was written for her disappointed me. She didn’t go far enough. It was a chance to have a literal standing ovation in the theater, and they missed it. The film writers really wrote a weak ass scene. They could have inspired…
Cassandra: She could have dispelled with respectability politics just like that. They watered it down.
Sonya: Yes, the screenwriters watered it down.
Cassandra: You should write what the speech should have been...